Posted 2009-01-12 16:29:52 by
Once upon a time, I went to the XKCD geohash meetup. The Bay Area graticule is 60% water, so reachable locations are rare. Not as rare as in San Diego, where my family lives, whose graticule is 90% water and Mexico. But on Saturday the Bay Area location was right off the sidewalk on Bancroft, pretty close to Berkeley campus, so I expected bunches of people to show up.
Eight people did, including myself and the two I planned to go with. We chatted for about 15 minutes, then left a note saying “37.865958, -122.279772 has moved to the park at California St. and Delaware St.” and played board games in the park until sundown. Then we went to Marc LeBlanc's house and played board games until 9pm. So that was fun.
That day was also Matt's birthday. I had actually intended on hijacking the geohash meeting and turning it into Matt's birthday party, but unfortunately, Matt had work at 4pm, so we ended up going to a restaurant at around 10pm instead. Which was fun, too.
Afterward, Cameron insisted on buying Matt a shot for his birthday, so we walked into a bar on the way back from the restaurant. I don't really go to bars, so I don't know if this is standard practice, but we were searched for weapons on entering the bar. They didn't do a very good job; they didn't look in Indy's bag at all, and when it was my turn to be patted down, the usual guy stepped aside and some girl came over and started grabbing my ass. Someone chimed in that she should check my beard, so she started fondling that too.
I thought it was interesting that I didn't really mind, because had the gender roles been reversed, it would've been completely unacceptable.
Inside, we met the local weed dealer, an enormous, athletic guy, head shaved bald, who spent the 80s doing special ops in Asia and came back with a full-blown case of post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll call him Maul. So, Maul is pretty friendly with Matt. When he found out that it was Matt's birthday, he took a knife out of his pocket -- this was in the bar, remember, where weapons aren't allowed -- and said “here, I got you this.” It turned out to be a $300 switchblade that he had illegally modified to be extra deadly. I forget the details of how the modification worked, but it involved thumbscrews.
As we were leaving, Cameron said he was going to get a snack at the liquor store across the street, and we parted ways. After we got home, Matt shaved a patch of his arm to test the sharpness of the blade. Then he started complaining that he had loved the part of his arm that he'd just shaved, and asked us to hide the knife from him until he wasn't drunk any more.
After we'd been home for 20 minutes, we realized Cameron was still gone, so we called him. He asked Matt to come walk him home, and Matt assumed he had gotten lost because he was drunk. As it turned out, though, he'd made the mistake of engaging Maul in conversation. Maul seems to be crazy, literally crazy, so when he started spouting spiritual bullshit and Cameron responded with critiques, Maul didn't take it too well. I don't know the details, but the bit I remember verbatim from Cameron's re-telling was Maul saying “I could slit your throat right now, and the only reason that I don't is that I'm an angel, and you're an angel, and we're both angels and we're beautiful.” And then offering to walk him home.
So what Cameron had really wanted, when he asked Matt to meet him, was a witness in case he was murdered.
After everyone got home, the guys started talking about a game they'd invented in Truckee, because in a ski resort town there's really nothing to do in the non-Winter months. They call it “Happy Slapping,” and it consists of smacking each other in the back as hard as possible. Then they started playing it, leaping around the room and yelping, then admiring the various stages of bruising. At one point one of them smacked an existing handprint and drew blood. They asked me if I wanted to join in.
“Hey Jim, you want to play too?”
“No, thanks. And just so you guys know, I've lost all respect for you.”
“Nope, no more respect.”
“Come on, man, it's my birthday.”
“Okay, I'll respect you because it's your birthday. But after today, no more respect.”
In the morning, Matt's back had visible blistering.
And they all lived happily ever after.